7:10 PM ET, September 16, 2013
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Texas: Garza (3-4, 4.46 ERA)
Tampa Bay: Cobb (8-3, 3.08 ERA)
The Texas Rangers have amazed online sports betting fans with a collapse that has left them with very small chances at a division title and forced them to focus on the wild card as their only opportunity to the postseason.
Tonight the Rangers will have to fight harder when they face the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rangers (81-67) came into September with a two-game lead versus the Oakland Athletics in the AL West, but a 2-11 slide has turned that into a 6 1/2-game deficit with 14 games remaining.
Texas’ tailspin includes losing all six games of a homestand and never leading in any, including a three-game series sweep to the A’s, capped by Sunday’s 5-1 loss.
Instead of tightening the division, this MLB team is now in a crowded wild-card race that has six teams separated by 3 1/2 games.
Texas and Tampa Bay (81-67) own the same record, but are just one-half game ahead of the Cleveland Indians with the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals close behind.
Adrian Beltre is hitting .375 over the past six games, but is 4 for 28 (.143) with two RBIs in his last eight meetings with the Rays. He’s 1 for 6 against scheduled starter Alex Cobb.
Improvement at the plate might be necessary with Texas sending Matt Garza (3-4, 4.46 ERA) to the mound for his first meeting with his former team.
The 29 year-old, a member of the Rays from 2008-10, is 0-3 in four starts and has lost his last two while surrendering nine runs in 11 innings. Garza gave up three runs with four walks in four innings of Wednesday’s 7-5 defeat versus the Pittsburgh Pirates, turning in his shortest outing since being acquired in a trade from the Chicago Cubs two months ago.
Cobb (8-3, 3.08) is 5-0 in 11 home starts, but the right-hander’s 0-1 with a 3.91 ERA over his last four overall while being backed by six total runs. He gave up three runs over 5 2/3 innings in Wednesday’s 7-3 loss in 10 defeat versus the Boston Red Sox.